GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MAAugust 11, 2014
Rowley takes control of ITL finals with weekend sweep
By Nick Curcuru
---- — ESSEX — The Manchester Essex Mariner’s reign as Intertown Twilight Baseball League champions is in serious jeopardy thanks to the play of the Rowley Rams over the weekend.
Rowley opened the series on Saturday with a tight 5-4 win over the two-time defending champion Mariners at Eiras Park, and on Sunday it took control of the finals with another close win, 4-2 at Memorial Field in Essex.
The Rams have played themselves into a great position as they can clinch the ITL championship at home on Wednesday (5:30 p.m.). If the Mariners stay alive Game 4 will be played on Saturday back in Essex (2 p.m.), and if necessary a decisive Game 5 will be played on Sunday back in Rowley (2 p.m.).
Rowley was powered by pitcher Tim Moore, who picked up the win allowing two runs over six innings, and an outstanding defensive effort to come away with the decisive win.
“We stress pitching and defense,” Rowley manager Jeff Wood said. “Timmy was very effective today, he pitched out of a few jams and made a few big pitches. And I thought our defense was great. Plus we battled at the plate and made the most of our opportunities. It was a well played baseball game.”
“Rowley did a better job taking advantage of their opportunities,” Mariners player Ryan Marques said. “And they played better defense. We battled and hung in there but (Rowley) got the job done.”
The Mariners were the victim of a tough break in the bottom of the fourth inning that just may have played a factor in the outcome of the game.
Trailing 3-1 with the bases loaded and nobody out, Moore was able to pick up a huge 3-6-4 double play for the first two outs of the frame. But after a walk loaded the bases, Sam Schaut ripped a line drive single up the middle that scored Paul Crehan to cut the lead to 3-2.
But the play was far from over as Bart Margiotta rounded third base with what was surely going to be the tying run as the ball got past the Rams centerfielder and stumbled on his way to the plate. Margiotta injured his knee on the play, he was taken from the field by stretcher and transported to Beverly Hospital, and was tagged out and Cory Burnham, who was also charging hard to third base and may have scored, was forced to stop at third.
“That was just bad luck and hopefully Bart is alright,” Marques said. “We caught a bad break because we didn’t convert the opportunity, but Rowley did a better job in that area regardless.”
The Rams would go on to score an insurance run in the seventh on a John Mical RBI single, and Tim Cashman closed the door in the seventh for the win.
Margiotta put the Mariners ahead 1-0 in the second with a solo shot to left but the Rams answered right back with three runs of their own in the top of the third.
Anthony Conte’s double to the gap in left center off of Mariners starter Rory Gentile, who also had a solid outing allowing just four hits, tied the score at 1-1. CJ Ingraham followed with an RBI single and Cashman a sacrifice fly to put Rowley ahead for good 3-1.
After the game, Wood was quick to praise the lower third of his batting order, which scored a pair of runs, drove in a run and started the decisive third inning rally.
“The bottom of the order really came through for us,” Wood said. “We put together some solid at bats and Gentile pitched well. Whenever you’re getting productive at bats from the bottom of the batting order, you’re in good shape.”
Although the Rams are up 2-0, both teams know that the series is far from over.
“It’s tough that we didn’t take care of business this weekend but we have to put it behind us and focus on Wednesday,” Marques said. “We have a lot of experienced players on this team so we aren’t worried or nervous but we know we are in a hole against a good team.”
“(The Mariners) have a ton of experience over there, and sometimes the last one is the toughest one to get,” Wood said. “Of course we are happy to be up 2-0 against this team but we know we still have work to do.”